MEMORIES OF LONDON: THORPE PARK

My heels were cracked- I had forgotten to rub moisturizer in them after showering, and after all that London walking, two little vertical gnashes had appeared, leering like bloody tiny mouths in my heel. They hurt and stung. Early morning, we stopped at Sainsbury’s to get a picnic for Thorpe Park, for I refused to pay the bandit – mafia price for the cheap horrible hotdogs inside the park, and I got band-aid too, and fixed them awkwardly over my tourist-wounds and put on socks, and hobbled downhill towards Gypsy Hill Train Station. The rest of London loomed greyish-blue in the morning light. We got sausage rolls and juice-boxes.

We bought proper train tickets to Staines, and the children were so excited to have their own tickets. Lucky too, because a ticket inspector came and inspected each and every one of our tickets. If that had happened on our way to Chessington, we would have been screwed, because at that time we didn’t know we couldn’t ride on trains out of London using Oyster cards, and we hadn’t bought tickets. My brother had screamed at horror in us when we told him we had rode to Chessington without buying train tickets. Lucky, lucky.

The first ride in Thorpe Park was a water ride, and we sat with our feet up to our ankles in gross muddy water. We were whirled and we screamed. My wet socks made the little mouth wounds in my heels swell and throb, and within an hour, I could barely walk.

The princess could get on rides for which the Golden Boy was too short, horrible sadistic rides which are featured in the Guinness book of records. The Golden Boy was in a constant state of distress and jealousy, so.

I went with him on a horrible ride called the zodiac, where you lay in a sort of cage and were flung and whirled around savagely. The Golden Boy was flung on his back along me awkwardly, and I dug my nails in his neck from fear that he would fall out. He screamed in agony and I screamed back. We were let out a few minutes later, shaking and terrified.

I foisted off the Golden Boy on his sister and father and persuaded them to ride The Tidal Wave without me, that I truly didn’t want to ride it. I found a dirty corner and collapsed, peeled off my dirty gross socks and let the cool breeze blow on my throbbing heels.

I read The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt while waiting. Fascinating chronicle of times, yet devoid of a likeable main character. Why? Am I the only reader left who would like to read about a character I actually care about?

The Princess had had enough, drenched after the Tidal Wave. She looked pale and fatigued, and even though it was far from closing time, asked to go home, to Crystal Palace. She had travelled through the Tunnel of Amusement Parks, and come out on the other side. We were surprised, and even though I had spent $150 on a day ticket for us, delighted.

The weather was beautiful, sunny and cool.

The next morning, we had a Venezuelan brunch at a small place in Crystal palace, with Latin chorizo, and other things, served by people who barely spoke English and reminded us of kindly neighbours in Iran. But was that the morning after Thorpe Park? I can’t remember. I need to write it down, here, before it all vanishes into dreamland and memories.

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